The Malta Independent 19 September 2020, Saturday

Bartolo adds nothing on migration situation in Libya after reports of authorities shooting migrants

Karl Azzopardi Wednesday, 5 August 2020, 18:09 Last update: about 2 months ago

Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo had nothing to add to answers he had already provided to this newsroom regarding the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) report of Libyan coastguards opening fire on fleeing migrants.

The minister is set to visit Libya on Thursday.

Last week, IOM reported that its staff in Khoms, Libya, informed the NGO that local authorities started shooting migrants who attempted to escape from the disembarkation point, killing 2 and injuring multiple others.

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In its report, IOM added that "Libya is not a safe port and reiterates its appeal to the European Union and international community for urgent action to end the return of vulnerable people to Libya."

Contrary to this, whilst speaking to this newsroom just a day before this report was published, Minister Bartolo had said that he is thankful for the Libyan coastguard for all the work it has done in limiting the number of migrants coming into Malta.

Following the IOM report, The Malta Independent sent a number of questions to the Minister asking how he could confidently praise the Libyan coastguard when considering such reports of shootings on migrants by the authorities themselves.

The reply this newsroom received was simply; “the minster has nothing to add to what has already been said,” possibly referring to the minister’s comments on the need to improve Libya’s living conditions so as to tackle the problem of migration from its roots.

On Wednesday the minister praised the Libyan coastguard in statement announcing that he will be visiting Libya to discuss the topic of migration, saying that the Libyan coastguard have rescued around 6,000 persons up until the end of July who would have otherwise drowned or ended up in Malta.

This newsroom also asked how he will stick to this idea of keeping migrants in Libya by bettering their living conditions when a renowned migration NGO is insisting that Libya is not safe.

Additionally, he was asked where Malta stands with regards to this incident, considering that the Maltese government has shown a lot of pride in the camaraderie shared between Malta and Libya.

Both these questions also remained unanswered.

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